Rugby Leaguers trounce Warwick

23 October 2008

Stan Knowsley

Sports Reporter

In a carbon copy of the start of last season the Lions travelled away with only 14 players to a much improved University of Warwick side who now boast two teams playing in the newly renamed BUCS competition. With Warwick now coached by the vastly experienced Australian Troy Perkins, the team knew that they would have to concentrate for the full 80 minutes. The game started with good defensive pressure by Cambridge, forcing needless errors from Warwick.

Cambridge made the breakthrough their pressure deserved with the first try coming from veteran James Shearman, now embarking on his fourth season wearing the light blue and playing in the unaccustomed role of prop forward. Cambridge rested on their laurels however, allowing Warwick to score a converted try on their own. Head Coach and General Manager John Evans let his feelings be known to his players from the touchline as they carelessly gifted Warwick possession.

Things turned round though as half-time approached. The Blues, utilising the speed at the ruck of hooker George Sykes and ably supported from the back three of Max Stechman, Scott Wildgoose and Oxford old boy and debutant, Will Brewster, scored three tries with only one against. They went into half-time the happiest, 20-10 to the good.

In the second half, possession of the ball was vital as the energy levels inevitably dropped. The Blues played with intelligence and good game sense in set construction, kick chase and pressuring the opposition when defending. These tactics paid dividends, forcing their opposition into a succession of errors. The backs capitalised on the profligacy of their Warwick counterparts as they doubled the half-time score. The game eventually finished Warwick 20 – CUARLFC 40.

With players going down like ninepins at the end with cramp it was a great effort against a physically more imposing team. After only a week back at Cambridge and only two game training sessions, this was a great effort by the lads who are already in pretty good physical condition but will improve as the weeks go on and they get game time under the belt.

Coach Evans was pleased with the effort: “Defensively we were a little disappointing today both one on one and in combination as we never really dominated in the collision which is of course down to the collision skills of the Warwick players as well. It was route one football for the most part with the whole backline putting their hands up for scoots but needs must when the forwards are having to go for the full 80 minutes. There were loads of positives but the exciting thing is that there is 50% improvement left in all of these players in both skill and fitness”

The KCJ Man of the match was debutant scrum half Joe Pitt-Rashid who alongside his brace of tries was a threat to Warwick all afternoon.